Press TV – The Iranian government and security officials are advising people to stay home and postpone their New Year travels as extreme weather conditions continue to grip most of the country, after deadly flash floods swept through several provinces in recent days.
As of Tuesday morning, at least 19 people were confirmed dead and many more injured as a result of flash floods that swept away a large number of cars and their passengers in one of the main tourist attractions in the city of Shiraz, in the southern province of Fars a day earlier.
Esmail Salehi, the city’s mayor, has warned local residents and New Year travelers that another major current was headed towards the city on Tuesday. He said evacuations were underway in rural areas to prevent further casualties.
Rescue operations are also ongoing in the northern provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran following historic floods triggered by heavy downpours of rain on March 19 and 20.
Ayatollah Khamenei condoles with families of victims
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday sent his condolences to the families of the victims of the recent floods and called on authorities to speed up relief efforts.
Also on Saturday, Ayatollah Khamenei in a message to officials and the nation called for more assistance to be provided to the flood-affected zones. The Leader’s official website has since been updated with a new feature that allows direct contribution to the relief campaign.
Ongoing rescue efforts by government and armed forces have received a major boost from voluntary groups who are headed towards flood-hit areas to facilitate operations.
Rouhani: All damages will be compensated
President Hassan Rouhani has urged all local officials to cut short their New Year holidays and return to work to ensure swift response to public needs in affected areas.
Addressing an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Rouhani called on the Armed Forces to step up their rescue efforts.
“People’s lives are our highest priority,” he said, emphasizing that the government is ready to compensate damages incurred by residences and businesses.
High risks of flooding in west, southwest Iran
According to Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian, official flood alerts have been issued in as many as 10 provinces in the country’s west and southwest, including the oil and agriculture hub of Khouzestan.
People and authorities in five other cities in the central and eastern parts of Iran have also been told to stay on alert as heavy precipitations continue.
Officials have also ordered shut all businesses in the northern parts of the capital Tehran for at least 48 hours in anticipation of possible flash floods originating from the Alborz mountain range.
Freezing cold, fog reported in several cities
Police have asked people to avoid traveling to western and northern parts of Iran unless it is absolutely necessary.
According to latest police reports, heavy snow has blocked the main roads in Kermanshah and a number of other western provinces.
Hamedan, Zanjan, Esfahan, Koredestan and a number of other provinces have reported heavy fog and snow, hindering travel in mountain roads.
*To join the national rescue effort for flood victims, you can check the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s donation page here.